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Our American Story

HBCUs: A Legacy of Shaping African American Athletes

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have always been incubators for talent. In the post–Civil War Reconstruction years (1863–1877), dozens of HBCUs were founded to meet the educational needs of free and newly freed African Americans. Whereas most institutions barred or limited African American enrollment, HBCUs arose to provide higher education and vocational training.
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Collection Story

Jackie Robinson: Paving the Way Forward

April 15, 2022, marks the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson integrating Major League Baseball. As one of the first and most visible institutions to accept African Americans on relative terms of equality, baseball became viewed as a model for the nation—providing a blueprint for future widespread integration. This story highlights two important objects from the inaugural, impactful 1947 baseball season: a pinback button and a Time magazine cover featuring Jackie Robinson.
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Collection Story

Their Words Live On: Remembering the Fallen Heroes of 2021

As 2022 approaches, we here at the National Museum of African American history and Culture pause to reflect on the lives of those we have lost in 2021. As we mourn their passing we must also preserve the incalculable contributions they have made to American history through their deeds and words.
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Our American Story

African Americans at the Olympic Games

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are the world’s biggest stage for athletes. For many African Americans, this high level of visibility has become a platform not just for their talents and abilities, but also for their community values, their advocacy, and their voices.
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Our American Story

HBCUs Foster Scholarship, Culture and Community

HBCU campuses have always been places that foster the development and achievement of African Americans. The historic election of U.S. Vice President–elect Kamala Harris also has generated significant attention.
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Leveling the Playing Field: Golf

Golf evolved largely as a country club sport in the United States, and African Americans were barred from most memberships.
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Leveling the Playing Field: Women's Basketball

In the early 1900s many African American communities embraced women’s basketball. African Americans saw sports as a way to demonstrate character, discipline and excellence.
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Leveling the Playing Field: Althea Gibson

Even as more mainstream sports such as baseball, football, and basketball began to accept black competitors, golf and tennis remained closed to most African Americans. These sports helped convey social status, and players prided themselves on refined competition characterized by emotional control and gentlemanly and ladylike behavior. Because of these sports’ close association with cultural elites, African American tennis players and golfers had to cross boundaries that were not present in other sports.
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Leveling the Playing Field: HBCU Athletes

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) began to spread throughout the South and East after the Civil War. They turned to sports as a means to develop leaders and to join a growing trend throughout higher education in the mid-to-late 1800s: the widespread inclusion of sports teams on college campuses.
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Collection Spotlight

LeBron James Donates Equality Sneakers

A group of 59 game-changing youth from across the U.S. got the surprise of a lifetime on Tuesday: a sneak peek at one of the museum’s latest additions, the LeBron James’ Nike EQUALITY P.E.
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